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not identically the same as those which lived in the times called “older tertiary," which succeeded the cretaceous epoch ; and the crocodiles of the older tertiaries are not identical with those of the newer tertiaries, nor are these identical with existing forms. I leave open the question whether particular species may have lived on from epoch to epoch. But each epoch has had its peculiar crocodiles ; though all, since the chalk, have belonged to the modern type, and differ simply in their proportions, and in such structural particulars as are discernible only to trained eyes.
How is the existence of this long succession of different species of crocodiles to be accounted for?
Only two suppositions seem to be open to us–Either each species of crocodile has been specially created, or it has arisen out of some pre-existing form by the operation of natural causes.
Choose your hypothesis ; I have chosen mine. I can find no warranty for believing in the distinct creation of a score of successive species of crocodiles in the course of countless
ages of time. Science gives no countenance to such a wild fancy ; nor can even the
even the perverse ingenuity of a commentator pretend to discover this sense, in the simple words in which the writer of Genesis records the proceedings of the fifth and sixth days of the Creation.
On the other hand, I see no good reason for doubting the necessary alternative, that all these varied species have been evolved from pre-existing crocodilian forms, by the operation of causes as completely a part of the common order of nature, as those which have effected the changes of the inorganic world.
Few will venture to affirm that the reasoning which applies to crocodiles loses its force among other animals, or among plants. If one series of species has come into existence by the operation of natural causes, it seems folly to deny that all may have arisen in the same way.
A small beginning has led us to a great ending. If I were to put the bit of chalk with which we started into the hot but obscure flame of burning hydrogen, it would presently shine like the sun. It seems to me that this physical metamorphosis is no false image of what has been the result of our subjecting it to a jet of fervent, though nowise brilliant, thought to-night. It has become luminous, and its clear rays, penetrating the abyss of the remote past, have brought within our ken some stages of the evolution of the earth. And in the shifting “ without haste, but without rest” of the land and sea, as in the endless variation of the forms assumed by living beings, we have observed nothing but the natural product of the forces originally possessed by the substance of the universe.
GEOLOGICAL CONTEMPORANEITY AND
PERSISTENT TYPES OF LIFE.
MERCHANTS occasionally go through a wholesome, though troublesome and not always satisfactory, process which they term “ taking stock.” After all the excitement of speculation, the pleasure of gain, and the pain of loss, the trader makes up his mind to face facts and to learn the exact quantity and quality of his solid and reliable possessions.
The man of science does well sometimes to imitate this procedure; and, forgetting for the time the importance of his own small winnings, to re-examine the common stock in trade, so that he may make sure how far the stock of bullion in the cellar-on the faith of whose existence so much paper has been circulatingis really the solid gold of truth.
The Anniversary Meeting of the Geological Society seems to be an occasion well suited for an undertaking of this kind—for an inquiry, in fact, into the nature and value of the present results of palæontological investigation; and the more so, as all those who have paid close attention to the late multitudinous discussions
in which palæontology is implicated, must have felt the urgent necessity of some such scrutiny.
First in order, as the most definite and unquestionable of all the results of palæontology, must be mentioned the immense extension and impulse given to botany, zoology, and comparative anatomy, by the investigation of fossil remains. Indeed, the mass of biological facts has been so greatly increased, and the range of biological speculation has been so vastly widened, by the researches of the geologist and palæontologist, that it is to be feared there are naturalists in existence who look upon geology as Brindley regarded rivers. Rivers," said the great engineer, “were made to feed canals ;” and geology, some seem to think, was solely created to advance comparative anatomy.
Were such a thought justifiable, it could hardly expect to be received with favour by this assembly. But it is not justifiable. Your favourite science has her own great aims independent of all others; and if, notwithstanding her steady devotion to her own progress, she can scatter such rich alms among her sisters, it should be remembered that her charity is of the sort that does not impoverish, but “ blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
Regard the matter as we will, however, the facts remain. Nearly 40,000 species of animals and plants have been added to the Systema Naturæ by palæontological research. This is a living population equivalent to that of a new continent in mere number; equivalent to that of a new hemisphere, if we take into account the small population of insects as yet found fossil, and the large proportion and peculiar organization of many of the Vertebrata.
But, beyond this, it is perhaps not too much to say that, except for the necessity of interpreting palæontological facts, the laws of distribution would have received less careful study; while few comparative anatomists (and those not of the first order) would have been induced by mere love of detail, as such, to study the minutiæ of osteology, were it not that in such minutiæ lie the only keys to the most interesting riddles offered by the extinct animal world. · These assuredly are great and solid gains. Surely it is matter for no small congratulation that in half a century (for palæontology, though it dawned earlier, came into full day only with Cuvier) a subordinate branch of biology should have doubled the value and the interest of the whole group of sciences to which it belongs.
But this is not all. Allied with geology, palæontology has established two laws of inestimable importance : the first, that one and the same area of the earth's surface has been successively occupied by very different kinds of living beings; the second, that the order of succession established in one locality holds good, approximately, in all.
The first of these laws is universal and irreversible ; the second is an induction from a vast number of observations, though it may possibly, and even probably, have to admit of exceptions. As a consequence of the second law, it follows that a peculiar relation frequently subsists between series of strata, containing organic remains, in different localities. The series resemble one another, not only in virtue of a general